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8/96 Reviews SW: Peachtree Complete Accounting

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

Good Medicine for Growing Businesses

By Joel T. Patz

Peachtree Software has introduced a dandy accounting program targeted to small-to-medium-sized businesses. If your enterprise has about 25 employees and $1 million or more in annual sales, Peachtree Complete Accounting may be just what your company needs to streamline its accounting chores.

This is the most comprehensive of the company's accounting trio, which also includes Peachtree First Accounting and Peachtree Accounting. It nonetheless maintains the ease of setup and short learning curve I've come to appreciate in the Peachtree accounting programs. This package will appeal to companies that require more complex features than you'll find in Peachtree Accounting Release 3.5 (reviewed in our March issue), since it includes sales, purchase order, job costing and fixed assets capabilities.

Standard features are well-represented, too. The program has General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Receivable, Inventory and Payroll. Unlike some of its competition (such as QuickBooks Pro), Complete is networkable right out of the box. It also handles complex details that used to be the purview of mainframes, especially for sales and receivables. You can ship and track partial quantities against a sales order, or follow drop shipments (products to your customer's customer). Complete Accounting prints pick lists or packing slips and can add freight charges, and it eliminates duplicate data entry. You can easily convert a quote to a sales order or an invoice, for example, and the program slickly copies estimates into your job/project cost system.

Complete Accounting can show what you over- or undershipped, lets you receive inventory prior to receiving a bill and will use history as a "guesstimate" for valuation purposes until the bill arrives. You can also view your P.O. history, track reorder quantities, and create assemblies or print components separately on an invoice. It's also possible to add commissions and establish up to five pricing levels. The program can maintain descriptions for quotes and purchase orders, and makes it easy to write a refund check.

Job Costing helps you focus on staying profitable; its reports compare a job's actual cost to associated revenue. You can break a job into phases, especially useful as a project size grows. You then break phases into details that include cost codes, specific tasks or categories, and splitting of material, labor and equipment. Once set up, phases and cost codes can be used as templates for new jobs. Tired of the drudgery of reimbursable expenses? Complete Accounting can apply them to invoices by job or job phase.

The Fixed Asset module handles multiple tax books and keeps track of Alternative Minimum Taxes. It can calculate for a short year, which is great for new businesses. I tested an early copy, though, so I can't comment on its quality. Inspect your box carefully. Mine, supposedly a shipping product, prominently indicated "Fixed Assets" availability, but I had to send in a postcard to get it. Peachtree says that the module should be included by the time you read this.

Some Complete Accounting features should be included with the other Peachtree products in this line. It tracks how your customer pays (by check, credit card), lets you see your cash balance as you write checks, prints a G/L summary report with subtotals by period, and reprints individual invoices and quotes. These are features you should find in any accounting package, but aren't in Peachtree Accounting and First Accounting.

Program setup is easy, and the guided tour/tutorial gets you quickly on your way. The documentation won't leave you struggling to decode accounting terminology, and the program's quick lookup on many fields is a great time-saver. Technical support could be liberalized, however. Currently it's just 30 days of free support from the time of registration.

Peachtree is a company poised for growth. You now can connect Peachtree accounting packages with Automatic Data Processing's payroll service, called e-TAX, which provides tax filing for payroll taxes, and handles direct deposit and W-2 printing. Complete Accounting soon will be able to access electronic bill payment, which should improve overall accuracy and reduce time-consuming chores. Given the company's progress in this area, I wouldn't be surprised if there soon isn't a similar link to online banking features, such as statement reconciliation, which are also appearing in personal finance packages such as Quicken and Money.

With the exception of that missing Fixed Assets module, I can't find much to criticize about Peachtree Complete Accounting. It's an excellent choice for medium-sized businesses, or those that soon hope to be.

-- Info File --
Peachtree Complete Accounting
$199; upgrade, $139
Pros: Networkable; ideal for small to midsized businesses
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x
Disk Space: 24MB-42MB
Peachtree Software
800-228-0068, 770-564-5800
WinMag Box Score 5.0
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